Why should you get inolved with others returning to college?

Camaraderie

One of the down sides to being an adult learner is that you are surrounded by younger students who are full-time “college aged” students.  The problems they talk about when it comes to learning obstacles will probably not be the same as yours.  It can be especially difficult to work with “college aged” students when it comes to group projects.  Their schedule and free time will, most likely, not match up with yours which will make contributing to the project difficult to say the least.  Also, a lot of these students will not have the life experience that you have and may have a different view of the “real world” than you do which may make interactions with them, very stressful.

The only other students who will encounter these problems are fellow adult learners.  Drawing off of other adult learners’ experiences in dealing with “college aged” students or any of the other obstacles you may encounter, can make your learning experience much easier.  They are going through some of the same issues as you are so connecting with them can give you both an opportunity to vent as well as another view of how to deal with a similar issue. You may even be able to set up similar course schedules so that you will have a fellow adult learner in classes with you to work on group projects together.  “College aged” students may not understand the demands and issues facing adult learners but a fellow adult learner will.

Dealing with Professors

Another source of stress for adult learners may be dealing with college professors who are similar or younger in age.  It can be difficult receiving instruction on a topic from someone of similar or younger age especially if you are taking college classes related to a field you are currently working in and have a lot of “real world” experience with.  Also, it is important to keep in mind that the professors may also feel uncomfortable being the “authority” on a subject that their student has more experience in than they do.  For these reasons it would be a good idea to meet with other adult learners and talk about the best way to approach interacting with the professors especially with issues that you disagree with the professors on.  Your fellow adult learners will most likely, have the same issue you are faced with and it is always good to get multiple views on how to deal with something from people who have a shared experience.  You may find that there are adult learners who have already successfully or unsuccessfully dealt with an issue you are facing.  Getting information from them on what worked or what they wish they had done differently can save you a lot of headaches.

Being a Resource

Besides seeking advice, you can also be in a position to give advice.  If you have been helped by a fellow adult learner, it would be good to pass on that help to another adult learner who may be struggling with something.  You can also take initiative and start an adult learners group at your institution.  Adult learners have so much going on in their lives that connecting with fellow students may fall on the back burner so by you taking the initiative to start group, other adult learners may notice and make it a priority to connect with you and others.  This could create the same type of camaraderie amongst adult learners that already exists among most “college aged” students.

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